Progress Can Be a Bitch Especially When You’re in a FOG About It

“We’re in a FOG! I can’t see you!” My friend and I are running behind a DDT truck as close as we can get to the sputtering machine pumping out noxious gas to kill mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that live by the thousands on our tiny island called Guam. We are not alone. Kids from all over the neighborhood join the ritual. It’s fun to be in a fog surrounded by only whiteness. Get as close as you can without keeling over from the fumes. And of course the truck is moving so you need to run, hold your breath, stop to catch a breath, then run some more before you get left behind.

The fog came in today while I was dashing around the monument. (Yes, yes I did dash on the runway.) And made me think of those evenings on Guam when we chased the DDT truck. Our kids wonder that I’m alive. They also wonder why they don’t all have six legs or three eyes.

Tumon Bay Guam

This is MY Tumon Bay

Life on Guam. In the fifties. Perfect in every way. Mom said it. Dad said it. We live it. We three and baby sister Suzanne, born there mid-tour. It really is perfect. The weather is always warm, we have no windows or even screens, only louvers to close for privacy. Rain comes in showers and leaves just as fast. Flowers are everywhere. The war is over long enough that living standards on the AFB are comfortable.

mom on reef

Mom on the reef at Tumon Bay. Look how far away the beach is!

We are cautioned to not stray too far away from civilization because Japanese soldiers still hid in the hills. We mostly stay on base. There is hardly any civilization to stray away from anyway. Agana, the capital, is a tiny village. There are a couple of public beaches. You have to wear shoes because the coral will cut your feet. But the shallow warm water with no dangerous marine life is a child’s playground. It only gets deep beyond the reef.

We are warned to never get on the reef. A rogue wave can wash you off. Into the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean. Of course Dad has to urge Mom has to take on the challenge. Tumon Bay (you don’t want to click on that link, you really don’t) is our favorite beach. Dad can take our jeep (no seat belts, no doors) from the top of the towering limestone cliff to the sandy beach at the bottom in seconds flat. Beats any roller coaster I’ve ever been on. We swim. We bring our own lunch and snacks. We find incredible shells in tiny caves along the shore. We gather coconuts that fall from the palms. Take them home and after way too much work get to the succulent meat inside. The folks that visit Tumon Bay today haven’t the foggiest notion what slice of paradise they’ve missed.

The Little Shop of Sass


Filed under Beach Life, family, Life on Guam

2 Responses to Progress Can Be a Bitch Especially When You’re in a FOG About It

  1. Hi,
    My family of four also lived on Grum in the fifties…55-57. My father was in the Navy and while the new housing was being finished, we lived in Agat! After a few months we moved into a new duplex on a circle right across from Turtle Island…it was so beautiful and life was so unstructured then. I recall only one large department store in Agana, but that didn’t matter because shopping wasn’t a hobby or pastime like it is today. We spent hours exploring, with the same admonition so you had from your parents…don’t touch, pick up or go into anything! We would make our way to the nearby cliffs and dared the waves to splash us before we would start being afraid they would grab us.
    We both attended Adelup Elementary…three long rows of windowless concrete buildings terraced into a hill, with louvered doors to bring in the ocean breeze. Talk about paradise!
    I remember big family/friend picnics at Nimitz Beach and One called Gab Gab. That one was walled in the water on three sides to provide a swimming area (that always fascinated me)! The water was deep but not really enough for diving; my brother found that out when his chest hit the coral and he came up screaming from the pain of the salt water in his scratches! My first close call in the water was when I borrowed swim fins so I could dog paddle to the buoyed platform about 20 ft out.. I might have made it had I not lost a fin! Fortunately my father saw my flailing arms and swam to my rescue.
    I have other memories but will stop here and continue searching the photos, etc. I’ve been finding on the web. Thanks for stimulating my memory’s!

  2. sandy jett ball

    What awesome memories Kathleen. My college roommate reminded me about telling her about leeches in the swimming water making it not so much fun. I had totally forgotten that part. There really weren’t that many and they never got on us. We wore shoes but mostly because of the coral. The two beaches we went to (one was Tumon Bay when it was nothing but a beach, have you seen it now!) were shallow lagoons formed by a reef. Standing on the reef was strictly forbidden because you could get swept off into the Pacific but my Mom did it anyway once. Dad took a great photo of her. The base would have a bus take all the kids to the movies on Saturday morning somewhere off base. You may have done this too. It was packed with kids, very few adults. A big social event. It was more about eating candy and chatting with friends than watching the movie. My first school was all individual quonset huts connected by sidewalks. There was a big walk in freezer in the middle of the collection of huts where they kept our bag lunches cool and passed out milk. There was no cafeteria. We ate on the steps of our school rooms. Then I moved to the American School. It was in a traditional school building. I remember Agana as a small town. I’ll be writing more Guam stories on the blog. I’ll email you when I do so you won’t miss any. Thank for a fun note. Sorry it took me so long to reply.I mostly get spam comments and so forgot to check on a regular basis.

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